Catholics in China are dismayed at the apparent house arrest of the newly-ordained Bishop Thaddeus Ma Daqin after he publicly cut ties with the government-controlled Catholic Patriotic Association.
Local Church sources said Bishop Ma of Shanghai was taken away by several unidentified persons shortly after his ordination last Saturday and is now at a diocesan seminary in Shenshan, on the outskirts of Shanghai.
His absence from a scheduled Sunday Mass the following day caused grief among parishioners, with Father Joseph Gu Zhangjun visibly upset as he presided in his stead.
Sources cited by UCANews said it was widely understood that authorities were displeased by Bishop Ma’s speech during his ordination, in which he said he would step down from the government-sanctioned local CPA and give up his membership in the national body to devote himself entirely to his ministry.
Priests and nuns of the Shanghai diocese had received a text message purportedly from Bishop Ma, saying he felt “mentally and physically exhausted” after his ordination and “need a break”.
But Or Yan-yan, an officer with the Justice and Peace Commission in Hong Kong, said there were serious doubts about the authenticity of the message.
“It makes no sense for him to have rushed to a retreat without presiding over his first Mass, which was scheduled,” she said.
Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun of Hong Kong joined a protest rally organised by the commission in front of the Central Government’s liaison office in Hong Kong.
Meanwhile two government-sanctioned Church organisations announced an investigation into Bishop Ma’s ordination.
The Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association and the Bishops’ Conferences of the Catholic Church in China said the ordination “allegedly violated seriously the BCCCC’s regulations with regard to bishops’ election and ordination”.
A Church source added that the bishops who participated in the ordination have also been included in the investigation.
“Five participating bishops have been summoned to Beijing to give an account of it,” the source said.
News category: World.